We’ve just posted an on-demand video version of our training webinar for newspaper industry execs. Thanks to support from the Newspaper Association of America (the NAA), this video is free to access. It’s about 50-minutes long and includes lots of examples of real-life newspaper paywalls along with specific research-based rules on how to fix them.
The surprising thing to the NAA was just how many newspaper execs showed up for the live webinar when it was first broadcast in December 2010. They told us just over a couple of dozen attendees would be normal. Instead more than 100 folks attended.
This was hugely heartening for us because newspapers desperately need this information. During our research for the presentation we could not find one single example of a good newspaper paywall. Not one! Newspaper paywalls are — frankly — scary bad. They just ignore all best practices.
Why is that? My theory is that newspaper site design is really difficult – it’s a science in itself. You’re dealing with heavy text, complex navigation, and hundreds of thousands of pages… Plus, on top of making this dense content easily navigable, you also have to deal with the demands of advertisers — get them enough clicks to keep paying while not sacrificing all your screen space.
Paywall design requires a completely different skill set. The goal is paid conversion, not free navigation. The content is focused, not comprehensive. Psychologically, the audience isn’t looking at the page because they want to be there, but because they’re forced to be there.
Other niches in the subscription site industry have been testing, researching and refining their paywalls for close to 15 years now. Audience development executives and web designers for newspapers can learn a lot from them. I’m psyched that so many folks came to our live webinar because it shows the newspaper industry is ready to get serious about selling online subscriptions properly. Hopefully someday we can do a revised version of this presentation and show examples of good newspaper paywalls.
If you know of one, please post the URL in comments below. Newspaper web designers need positive reinforcement :-)In the meantime, to see our free video training yourself, go here.